Puncture wounds are more serious than most people think. Because the wound creates a hole in the foot, rather than a tear like a common cut, they are extremely prone to infections and cause more internal damage. What would seem like a simple infection on a small wound can easily spread to the bone and joint and endanger the limb if not treated in a timely manner. The severity of a puncture wound is very hard to gauge for a person without a medical background because the depth and internal damage of the foreign object is unknown. Because dirt and debris from the foreign object is able to embed so far into the body, the wound is more difficult to clean without proper equipment.
Some things to note that will help to determine the severity of the injury is the type of object that penetrated the foot, the cleanliness of the object, what kind of footwear was being worn during the time of injury, and the environment in which the wound was obtained. Knowing the type of object that penetrated the foot can help to determine the extent of the internal damage that was caused. It can also help to determine if there are any remnants of the object left in the foot. Depending on the shape, size, and entry point, different elements of the foot will be injured. These factors will help determine the correct care needed because of the variation of damage that can be caused. The cleanliness of the object is also very important to note. If the object is extremely dirty or rusty, a tetanus shot might be necessary if the patient's immunization has expired. If foot wear was being worn during the injury, it is likely that rubber or bits of fabric have been forced into the wound adding to the amount of debris that is now in the foot. The environment in which the injury occurred also plays a factor in the severity of the wound. If the injury happened while in the water, more complications can arise. All this information will help the medical professional take the appropriate steps to addressing the wound. If medical attention was sought only in an emergency room, a proper cleaning or a follow up visit with a podiatrist is recommended.
Seeking council with a podiatrist right after the injury occurred has its benefits. Since feet are their specialty, they will know just what to look for to make sure the puncture wound is controlled. X-rays can be used in certain cases to determine if debris or an object is still left in the foot. They can also be used to see if any bone damage has occurred during the incident. Depending on how deep the wound is, a podiatrist can numb the foot to make it easier and less painful to be cleaned. Making sure the wound is clear of debris will help reduce painful scaring or hard cysts from being formed.
It is extremely important to monitor the progress of a puncture wound. Always keep the wound dry and clean. Change the bandages when they get dirty and make sure to apply antibiotic ointment. Watch carefully for signs of infection and seek council as soon as they appear. If the wound becomes sore, red, swollen, and warm or starts to drain fluid, it could be infected. If the infection does not heal in 10-14 days it could spread to the bone or joints. It is recommended to see a podiatrist as soon as signs of infection appear.
Puncture wounds can become very complicated very quickly and should not be taken lightly. Make sure to get the injury checked out within 24 hours of the injury. This will help the foot start healing correctly, prevent complications in the future, and get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
Dr. Jennifer Feeny is a board certified podiatrist in
Blacksburg Virginia. To read more of what Dr. Feeny is
saying about foot health visit http://www.blacksburgfoot.com